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How to Handle Spiritual Strongholds in Marriage


This is a guest post by Daniel Robertson. He runs the blog God’s Help For Marriage where he shares how couples can have thriving marriages that glorify God.

As an Army Veteran who has been to Iraq I am very familiar with the concept of military strongholds. In fact, while I was deployed I lived in a Forward Operating Base (FOB) which is essentially a modern day stronghold. And while the technology and tactics of war have changed significantly in the last few thousand years, strongholds still serve the same basic purpose.

A stronghold is simply a fortified location that the occupying military force can use to exert influence over the surrounding area. For instance, the FOB I was stationed at was surrounded by concrete walls and guard towers manned by Soldiers with automatic weapons and radios. This made it a relatively safe place for our troops to rest, get food, resupply, get medical attention and all kinds of other important things in between patrols.

Each day, these patrols would go out and exert influence on the area by seizing weapons caches, capturing terrorist leaders, and take out terrorist cells. They would then return to the FOB and get ready to do it all again the next day.

What is a Spiritual Stronghold?

A spiritual stronghold serves a similar purpose for the Enemy.

I would define a spiritual stronghold as a strong place in your soul that demonic forces can use to influence your thoughts and actions.

Please be aware that this is an analogy. In other words,  there isn’t some little fortress in your soul where an army of demons live. Demons can’t take residence in your soul – IF you are a Christian. They also can not force you to do anything. “The Devil made me do it” is not a valid defense. If you sin, it is because you made the decision.

What they can do is lie to you and tempt you. And using spiritual strongholds is probably one of the most effective ways they have of getting you to do what they want.

The scriptural basis for this is Ephesians 4:26-27:

26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.

The Greek word for foothold here is topos, which is the same word we get topography from. Literally, it translates as place. Do not give the devil a place to manipulate you from.

How Spiritual Strongholds are Built

Spiritual strongholds are built out of lies. Ever since you were born, the enemy has been working to get you to believe false things about yourself, God, and the world around you. These lies fly in  the face of God’s truth, and when you make decisions based on these false beliefs rather than God’s truth you are acting contrary to God’s perfect design for your life.

As an example, lets say you have  a stronghold built around the concept of self hatred. There are a lot of little lies that feed this stronghold.

  • You’re stupid. You’re ugly.
  • You’re worthless.
  • Nobody loves you.
  • Nobody would notice if you were gone…

These lies are built up slowly over time. They can come from frustrated parents and teachers. Peers at school. Report cards. Perfect looking girls in magazines and TV. You are bombarded with them day in and day out. And the more you believe the lies, the more you act according to them. You dress sloppily. You don’t apply yourself at school or work. These lies become self fulfilling prophecies and you get trapped in a viscous downward spiral.

How Spiritual Strongholds Effect Marriages

I  think you can see by now how these fortresses of lies can impact every area of your life, including your marriage. You say something hurtful to your spouse during an argument at the devil points a finger and says: “What a stupid thing to say, you really are worthless. How could she love you?”

And the stronghold gets stronger. If this is not dealt with, you will make more decisions based on these lies rather than on God’s truth. You will make decisions that will hurt your spouse and could very well destroy your marriage.

How to Tear Down Spiritual Strongholds

If this sounds like a bunch of doom and gloom up to this point, don’t worry. Jesus came to set us free from the power of sin and death. We can be free of the power of these strongholds thanks to the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross.

If strongholds are built of lies and the sinful behavior that reinforces these lies, then they can be destroyed by confronting the lies with God’s truth and repenting of those sins. You are not ugly and stupid. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, created in God’s image, a reflection of His glory. Start acting like a beautiful, intelligent child of God.

Expose your mind to God’s Word. Start proclaiming the truth of how He sees you over yourself. Act as if it is true. If you’ve never given you life to God through faith in the Jesus, do it. It is a requirement if you want to experience the freedom that God promises. Jesus purchased your freedom with His death, and you can access that freedom by receiving His gift.

If you want to learn more about how to build a healthy marriage, download my free report: “The 7 Pillars of a Godly Marriage“.


Replacing the Tapes in My Head

My Demon

What God Says About Me

Stages of This Journey

6 thoughts on “How to Handle Spiritual Strongholds in Marriage

  1. Daniel,
    The premise of this post, that we must allow God’s Truth to govern our thinking, not demonic or worldly ideas our culture promotes, is excellent!

    However, I found the analogy itself confusing. According to your description of the stronghold, it is where those fighting evil forces regroup to gain strength to go out and fight the enemy the next day. So in US, why would you liken this to a stronghold for EVIL? To apply the analogy this way makes it seem as if demons can live inside us. It makes more sense to me that a “spiritual stronghold” is the inner person that has been strengthened, recharged, and refined by prayer, study, and being filled with God’s spirit. In that case, lies and evil influences could successfully be fought off and not allowed to prevail. I guess it was calling it a “spiritual” stronghold that is confusing.

    At any rate, the point you are making is excellent, and we must fight so hard–sometimes continually–to combat wrong thinking. Thank you!

    1. Elizabeth, thanks for the comment and sorry for the confusion. Yes, we can build strongholds for God, as you described, but this post actually refers to demonic strongholds. I updated the post a bit to reflect this. The scriptural basis is Ephesians 4:26-27:

      26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.

      The Greek word for foothold here is topos, which translates to place. So the verse is saying do not let the devil gain a way to manipulate us.

      The devil can’t reside in us if we are born again, but he can tempt us. The premise of this post is that if our thinking is not aligned with God’s Truth, the devil can use that to more effectively tempt us.

  2. I think the analogy is quite apt, when you consider that before we became Christians, we were in the hands of the enemy. The spirit which God puts inside of us is the liberating force, at war with our fallen nature.That spirit is surrounded by a hostile force, both by the world, and our own sinful nature.In any war, both sides have their strongholds.Just because we have chosen to become Christians does not mean that we do not have sin in our members. Our sinful nature the enemy’s stronghold, which we must tear down.
    The point of how the enemy tears us down, by telling us how worthless we are speaks to my situation, quite acutely. I spent many years, even after becoming a Christian, believing those lies, because of seeing sin in my members. Only in the last few years, have I realized,that only what God says about me matters.

  3. This is exactly what I needed today! The lying liar who lies has been whispering ever so softly for a couple of days. I didn’t recognize it; the voice so quiet, the words so familiar. Then comes restlessness, irritability and discontent, followed by a downright angry blow-up! And God is still good 🙂 His love for us never ends.
    Sometimes I wonder if I’m manic-depressive toward God. I get on a high, then something like this happens. It’s true that when we start to make any progress towards Him, the devil is bound to attack. One thing I stood on today is that Jesus has won the war, the devil has been defeated and has no power over me. Now, if I will just remember this …

    Thank you, Daniel, for your service. And for sharing your experience with us.

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